Sunday, November 4, 2012

More Questions Than Answers

With just a couple more days until the election, I have to admit that the results are much more up in the air than when I once posted that Obama was guaranteed an electoral landslide. What happened? Mitt Romney got on the public stage alongside President Obama and denied all of his ideas were his ideas and backtracked on all his plans. Much like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar who stares at his mother and says the cat did it, Romney's strategy was simply say, in the immortal words of Shaggy, "It wasn't me."

Obama had no answer, looked silly to America, and the entire debacle that was Romney's campaign was shaken away. Call it an Etch-a-Sketch or Romnesia or a brilliant--albeit late--pivot from primary to general election strategy (let's face it, all candidates who have to win a primary do it), it worked brilliantly, and people were no longer scared of Mitt Romney.

With all the analysis I've done of the situation, I think it all is going to come down to five questions. These are not the questions most will be asking themselves as they wait for Tuesday's results. We will probably never know the answer to these questions, but behind the scenes somewhere they will have contributed to the results of this election. Here they go, in random order:

1) Will the evangelical Christian right that pushed George Bush to victory but was not enthusiastic about John McCain vote for a Mormon. There was a piece on yesterday about a conservative Christian voter that said he, and others like him, are merely sitting this one out. They won't vote for someone who is pro-choice, whether we're talking about abortion or gender of marriage partner, but they also won't vote for a Mormon whose view of Jesus Christ contradicts their own. If we concede that evangelical Christians carried W to re-election despite everything going wrong in his presidency, we have to admit this is probably a problem for Mitt Romney.

2) How big a fluke was Barack Obama winning in the first place? Were we really carried away by the chance to make history and by soaring rhetoric? Were we really taking George Bush out on John McCain? In short, was Obama just in the right place at the right time, or was the country really voting for his progressive agenda? The honeymoon is certainly over. Both sides were frustrated by his attempts to play nice for two years, and when he got tough, Republicans got rubbed the wrong way and now refuse to play at all. If Obama wins again, despite a failing economy, this might show us where our country is as a whole. Have we become more liberal, and have social issues like acceptance of gay marriage, abortion, contraception, and socialized medicine become acceptable to the majority? Have we become a liberal nation? Or was 2008 a fluke? That might get answered Tuesday.

3) The fact is there are about 5% more registered Democrats in this nation than Republicans. Turnout then, as usual, becomes key. The more people that actually go out to vote, the better it is for Democrats. The more people who stay home, the better it is for Republicans (assuming independent voters break even, and with the national polls tied in the final days, that seems to be the case). Who can motivate the base more to come out and win this thing? Now, I admit, that's pretty much a question every pundit is asking and goes for any election. But I think there's a different question this time in regards to this. With the apparent hatred between these two candidates, the complete and total disgust building between the polar opposites of our society, I think the question is which side hates the other side more? Will liberals disgusted by the Republican party in general come out to the polls out of anger more than conservatives who are pissed off by what they see as a socialist agenda? Who is more pissed, sickened, outraged, disgusted, and/or homicidal might be the key to this election.

4) Also related, who are the more protestyer protesters--the Tea Party movement or the Occupy movement? There is no better way to show the vast differences in America public life. Both the Tea Party and Occupy movements have had issues with both candidates, it seems, or at least think neither is either liberal enough or conservative enough to satisfy their anger. Perhaps what we're seeing through this is that both candidates are more moderate than mainstream voters gives them credit for. Some do see this and claim they're both the same candidate that really agree on most issues. Either way, even though nobody will ever be liberal enough for the 98% and nobody will ever be conservative enough to be invited to this tea party, they will definitely be voting for the candidate closest to their own agendas. Which side is stronger, more organized, and like in question three, the angriest could be a huge factor in this election.

5) Men are from Mars and women are from Venus. We live in a strange world right now where men are overwhelmingly going for Mitt Romney and women are overwhelmingly going for Barack Obama. This isn't new. When you watch the debates and you see that little meter going at the bottom, often the two lines, one for women and one for men, are heading in completely opposite directions. This means something. Think about it. This means that in several households--I'm not about to venture to do this math--the husband is voting Romney and the wife is voting Obama. How is that possible in this age of hatred between parties? It's true, though. Maybe this accounts for the divorce rates being so high. Numbers this varied can't lie. We like to think we live in this world where men and women are equal and the problems of women and men have now equalized. Men care about their children going to war and getting sick, too; don't they? Maybe not? Who knows? But for this election, the question may be who can make more inroads with the gender who seems to oppose them. Can Obama convince more men to vote for him? Can Romney win over women? The battle of the sexes could be the battle for the White House. Will married men vote for Obama just to keep their wives off their backs????? Okay, that last one was just a joke, but this will be interesting to watch.

There are a slew of other factors going on out there, city vs. rural vs. suburban for example. In a recent Colorado poll that has Obama up slightly, Obama leads handily in the cities, has a comfortable but more modest lead in the suburbs, but is losing in the rural towns. Will cities and lukewarm support in the burbs win despite Romney's support from rural towns. What about the Hispanic vote that Obama will win by a landslide? What will that turnout be like in states like Florida?

There's so many interesting angles this time around that I could see Obama winning an electoral landslide (not a popular vote landslide), and I could see him losing altogether. I could see Obama winning the electoral vote but losing the popular vote. Heck, there's even a chance at an electoral college tie which, though various legal messes, could end in a Romney/Biden White House. What a goldmine for SNL!

It's going to be an exciting night full of answered questions, but when it's all said and done, whoever is the president is going to have a lame-duck Congress that needs to get to work on debt reduction and the debt ceiling. Actually, the "George-Bush-tax-cuts-for-the-wealthy" issue will be the first thing to decide with that deadline for their expiration looming. What happens after the election, before the new Senate and House are sworn in, might be just as politically exciting as this election.

Well, that's my final word on this election. I'm guessing Obama wins with 303 electoral votes, but I'm not exactly sure. Romney might pull it out or Obama could win by more. There's too many questions left unanswered. We'll have to tune in Tuesday night to find out.

Peace, and may the force be with you.

 Why can't this happen more often?